Written by Richie Pepio
During the 124 days before the release of The Last Jedi, I’m reviewing all 124 minutes of the theatrical version of
The Empire Strikes Back. Join me and together we will watch Star Wars…
When we cut back to Vader and Luke's lightsaber duel in Empire's 104th minute, things get goofy. Luke loses his saber and he falls down a flight of steps. If this were light-fencing in the Olympics, Luke would have been disqualified. Since this is (laser)sword fighting in real life, these missteps solidify that Luke isn't ready for the confrontation.
He does, however, pull a fast one on Vader, who thinks Luke’s been easily cornered into the carbon-freezing mechanism. When the dark lord’s not looking, Luke force-jumps out of the freezing-pit and Vader doesn't notice because he's distracted by Force-pulling the freezing lever(?). Luke is also somehow able to convince him he's hanging over the carbon-freezing device by different hoses(?), surprising Vader enough to say, "impressive. Most impressive." Why the evil “chosen one” can’t sense amateur moves from a freshman in Jedi school is beyond me, but the Force works in mysterious ways.
While Leia’s storyline is underscored with urgency, Irvin Kershner had the music removed from the duel. Unlike the scenes on the Hoth base, in which I believe those sequences were helped by the music that was ultimately cut, this portion of the lightsaber clash works better in silence.
The music doesn’t come in until Luke’s hand gets chopped off, and it’s appropriate as that leads right into Vader’s reveal. It’s the most operatic moment in the series. But for your listening pleasure, here is footage of the duel with music restored (by StarWarz.com).
Best Performance by a Human: Luke's clumsy stunts.
Best Performance by a Non-human: The practical on-set fog effects.
Best Line: Vader's oft-repeated "Obi Wan has taught you well."
Rating: 49 out of the 51 themes (and counting) written by John Williams for the Star Wars series.
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com